Ask Emma: I am so overwhelmed. Can you help?

Make list of priorities in life; talk to friends, mental health professionals to process problems



Feeling overwhelmed these days? Ask Emma may be able to help.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Dear Emma,

I am overwhelmed. Like, so overwhelmed I can’t even describe how overwhelmed I am. My classes, two jobs and relatively non-existent personal life are making me super stressed. I feel on edge all the time, which I hate because it means I snap more at my coworkers and friends. I also can’t stop crying, which is annoying because it takes away from time I need to use for work. 

On top of it all, everyone else seems to be having a horrible time right now. I feel so sad about the state of the world. I just want to help the people around me, but I don’t feel like I have anything left to give.

I know that’s a lot, but I really don’t know what else to do. How do I fix my life? Any advice is appreciated.


Too Stressed to Be Blessed

Dear Too Stressed,

Woah there, let’s pause for a deep breath. Inhale. Hold for four seconds. Exhale. That was a lot. I know you can’t write back — but are you okay? 

I’m really glad you decided to write in instead of bottling it all up inside. Let’s break your problem down into some (slightly) more manageable chunks. 

First of all, you are doing a lot. I can only imagine that school and work keep you plenty busy, let alone trying to add time to yourself into that mix. Is there anything you can drop or say no to? If you’re like me, you probably feel like you can’t miss anything. Whether you call it FOMO or not wanting to let people down, it isn’t sustainable long-term. Trust me on that.

Make a list of all your responsibilities. Are there any you can not do for a while? For example, it might not wreck your grade to skip a homework assignment if your professor drops some. If not, are there any responsibilities you could ask someone for help with from a friend, coworker or professor?

Something — somewhere — has to give for you to feel less stressed. Rank your priorities in order of how important they are to you. Let the things at the bottom of the list fall off for a little bit. People will understand that you need a break.

Next, you said you feel on edge often and are crying frequently. That is concerning to me because it sounds like you’re having trouble keeping your emotions in check. You don’t need to always be in control of your emotions, but they shouldn’t run your life. In your case, it sounds like they’re interfering with your ability to function productively. 

Consider talking to someone about how you’re feeling. Getting your feelings off your chest can be really helpful if you’ve been bottling them up for a while. Don’t wait until it gets so bad that you can’t handle it anymore. 

Friends can be great resources if you just need someone to listen to you. However, I strongly encourage you to seek professional help. If you want to set up an initial consultation with Counseling and Psychological Services, call 509-335-4511. A mental health counselor can give you resources to handle everything you’re dealing with right now. If you need help after hours, call 509-335-2159.

Finally, I am so sorry you feel like the world is crumbling around you. I agree, it does feel pretty bleak right now. It’s perfectly normal to be saddened when so many people around you seem to be suffering. However, I worry that you might be internalizing other people’s problems. 

Consider what is within your control. You cannot control someone else’s life, and trying to do so will only drain more of your energy. Do your best to let go of the things you can’t personally change. This is another thing a mental health counselor could help you process.

I hope all these tips help. I can’t fix your life for you, but I hope these ideas will help you get on a better path.